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a blog by Chris Barrow

How a shopping trip turned into a lesson in leadership and CSR

What exactly do you believe in – and how would I know?

Last weekend Annie and I visited the The Trafford Centre to help her search for appropriate evening wear in advance of an approaching black-tie dental dinner.

After a hilarious episode outside a fitting room (a story for another day) we emerged triumphant and decided to do just a little window shopping, as our trips to this location are made as infrequently as possible.

On a whim, we visited Lush to buy some bath-time goodies (cut to my personal Facebook profile and a Sunday evening photo of us both wearing face masks – life is fun!).

Whilst waiting in line at the Lush check out, I was much taken by a huge wall poster with the title “We believe….” and the following declaration:

We believe in making effective products from fresh organic* fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics. We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans. We invent our own products and fragrances. We make them fresh* by hand using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients and tell you when they were made. We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud. We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again. We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right. We believe that all people should enjoy freedom of movement across the world. *We also believe words like “fresh” and “organic” have an honest meaning beyond marketing.

It is of no doubt to me that one of the reasons that the shop was packed with people (and that there was a long line at the check outs) is that, in addition to having fun products brilliantly presented, those who shop there take advantage of the feel-good factor in supporting an organisation that itself supports those values.

I have learned from my friend and CSR Coach Mark Topley, that an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme is based upon three pillars:

  1. Charity – supporting good causes both locally and internationally;

  2. Community – the way you look after people – your suppliers, your team and your patients;

  3. Environment – the footprint that you leave in the world through your use of energy and resources

If I worked at Lush, I would be proud of the beliefs writ large on the wall of the store and proclaimed throughout their marketing:

Feeling good about supporting an enlightened organisation can be part of your Patient and Employee Experience in just the same way.

What do you believe in?

How would I know?

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